I'm already dreaming of travelling to Tuscany again...
On our first evening in Tuscany I ate a dish with beans. A friend of our hostess told me that dish was named "Fagliolini al Fiasco" "beans, cooked in a wine bottle".
He told me this is a dish often sold by bakeries who used the leftover warmth of the bread oven to cook the beans in old Chianty bottles.
The technique was quite simple, the dried beans are dropped in through the narrow neck of the bottle and just barely covered with water, herbs and olive oil.
In the old days, the bottle was sealed with a wad of muslin and set in a corner of the fireplace onto the smoldering ashes. While everyone in the house was asleep, the beans cooked. Imagine waking up to that.
This dish is also one of the classic "pane e companatico" which means "Bread and something to go with the bread". That something in was very often these beans.
It was a grey morning but as the weather was still mild for the year I was still able to fire up my oven in the garden and keep it warm for a few hours. In the evening we were rewarded by a aromatic bottle of beans and the smell of smoke in our hair. You do need some time, it takes 6 to 8 hours to cook.
What do you need
an empty clear wine bottle like a Chianty bottle (remove the straw)
fresh sage, a small handful
3 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
a good quality olive oil
dried white beans, fava beans or another small type of bean
wood for your fire (I used old grape vines)
One day before
Soak the beans overnight
On the day
Light your fire with wood, I used a smoker BBQ which is basically a long bullet shaped BBQ with a lid and a thermometer so you can monitor your heat. I hope to build a Tuscan bread oven in my garden next summer but in the meantime this does the trick. I you have a fireplace, this will work to. Just be sure the flames can't touch the bottle and the bottle isn't placed in too much heat.
My oven was around 70° Celcius for 5 hours.
Drop the beans into the bottle until it's filled to 3/4. The beans will expand so you will need that extra space. Add the 3 crushed cloves of garlic, the sage leaves and a bit of black pepper.
Pour in about 3 teaspoons of olive oil and add water so the beans are generously covered in water.
Close the bottle with a wad of muslin or cotton wool so the steam can escape the flask.
You best warm the bottle by putting it in warm water before you put in into the oven or fireplace.
Put the bottle into the oven when the fire is smoldering and leave on the cover for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, the beans in the bottle will look like in the picture.
Leave for another 2 hours.
After those 2 hours, open the bottle and try to get a bean out by using a skewer, have a taste, if the beans are still tough just put the bottle back in the oven for an hour and check again.
Mine were perfect after 6 hours.
We ate the beans in a few ways: just with parmesan and olive oil, with olive oil, croutons from homemade stale bread and parmesan and finally with Italian sausage I brought home with me from Tuscany.
Other posts about Tuscany:
A fabulous Tuscan foodblog to go to: Juls' Kitchen
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